It’s always a bit pressured when a foodie friend comes to dinner, no?
I like to think we always eat well, and we *do* prioritize the tasty, but it’s these occasions where you really want your cooking to be on point.
Anyway, George was coming, so my mind was whirring. The weather had got colder, so the Vietnamese lemongrass chicken I’d planned would have to wait ’til next time.
We decided to stick with poultry, but add warming Indian spices.
A whole chicken was roasted with lemon, cardamom pods (about 8) and some cinnamon bark inside it.
Potatoes were made trad British style, using this recipe – but peeled and parboiled as usual. (This worked really well.) A little of the spicing was used as a rub for the chicken.
My tip: Toast the whole spices first until they’re fragrant; only then add the powdered ones – and just inhale the happiness for a moment.
I made this dhal.
N.B. The black lentils I bought needed *very* careful picking over, unlike other pulses from the same brand. I removed a good tablespoon of stones and rogue pulses from the pound or so of little black beans.
After soaking overnight, the urad dhal looked not black, but like tiny little polished stones of green and brown. Quite beautiful.
I cooked it up first on the hob, then shifted the pulses to the slow cooker to simmer away for eight hours.
We began with glasses of Prosecco, a teaspoon of pomegranate syrup in the bottom, a few pomegranate seeds on top because George is fancy.
Then poppadoms cooked in the microwave (Madhur Jaffrey suggests it, and it works like a dream, I promise) with hot mango chutney (bought – Patak’s), onion salad (one onion, sliced; a few baby plum tomatoes, sliced lengthways; some fine ribbons of fresh mint, plus some nigella and mustard seeds); and plain yoghurt (pepped up with a crushed clove of garlic, a little more mint and a sprinkling of homemade garam masala).
The chicken emerged, gently spiced and pleasingly fragrant, from the oven. The potatoes were crispy, spicy and delicious. The dhal … Just try it. I doubled up the recipe and set aside half to freeze before adding the dairy at the end. Can’t wait to
eat try the rest of it.
For pudding, we had a little recipe I’d had bubbling away in the back of my mind for a while.
But that recipe will need to wait for another time.